Commonwealth Bank abandons hinterland

By Kirra Livingstone and Mitch Gaynor

THE last of the Big 4 banks will permanently close its doors in the hinterland by September.

The Commonwealth Bank this week told customers, via signage on the front door of its Beerwah branch, that it would close on September 2, directing people to either go to its Caloundra branch or use the local post office.

The closure comes after ANZ closed its Beerwah branch in February last year and leaves the Bank of Queensland as the only full-service banking option in the region.

Federal member for Fisher, Andrew Wallace, said customers were “justified in their disappointment”.

“I have contacted the Commonwealth Bank to express the disappointment and frustration of so many locals,” he told GC&M News.

“Decisions such as these are short-sighted given the continual growth of the Beerwah community and its surrounds.

“While I encourage locals to make use of the Commonwealth Bank internet banking training and assistance currently offered, I call on the Commonwealth Bank and all banks, for that matter, to consider the needs of their customers and our growing community.”

The Commonwealth Bank will be the last of the Big 4 banks to leave the Hinterland, leaving just the Bank of Queensland with a full-service bank branch.

CBA Regional General Manager, Kylie Hall, said a recent review of the branch, in line with the expiry of its lease, meant the bank “made the difficult decision to permanently close our Beerwah branch”.
“This branch has had a 33 per cent drop in transactions over the five years before the coronavirus pandemic,” she said.
Staff would be redeployed with Beerwah staff offered opportunities “supporting customers over the phone and online”.

CBA customer, Diana Michael, said she loved getting “proper customer service” from the branch and was worried about how others would cope.

“I had a conversation with the staff and the other people coming in expressing their concerns and shock as well. I was angry at first and thought there has to be something that can be done,” she said.

“I started to think about all the other people in the community who go into the branch and thinking about how they are going to feel, the elderly particularly and the disabled people who go in there who need assistance.”

Diana called the bank to ask the reasons behind the closure, but could not get a straight answer.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do, but I’m definitely taking my money out of the bank, I will be ending my relationship with the CBA,” she said.

“I have to go somewhere where I can actually go into the bank and I’m not driving to Caloundra or Maroochydore once a week.”

Glasshouse Country Chamber of Commerce president Jenny Broderick said that the move would upset a lot of business customers, especially after ANZ closed in February last year.

“There’ll be a significant upset from businesses in particular that made the move from ANZ to Comm Bank thinking that CBA would be around for an extended period of time,” Jenny said.

“For businesses banking money regularly, they will notice the effects the most.

“Thankfully we’ve got BoQ, and (owner/manager) Martin is committed to the region for at least ten years.

“It’s reflective of the times we are living in, but unfortunately it will have flow-on affects to our businesses.”

Social media comments on the GC&M News Facebook page were even more critical:

“Not bloody happy Jan,” Margaret Johnson wrote. “Was told many times that they would never close, their customers were too valuable they said…”

Jade Dixon wrote: “What a joke. Moved to CBA cause Suncorp was closing down ffs.”

“Why can’t they close the Caloundra branch and get the coasters to come here?” Anne Hughes wrote. “It would bring more much needed custom to our small businesses. Why is it always the small townships that have to pay the penalty for progress.”